Sunday, March 19, 2017

Library Books Mid-March 2017

This month's library piles see the clear influence of award lists, because it is the season indeed!

The Mindfulness Diaries: How I Survived My First Nine-Day Silent Meditation Retreat by Jennifer Howd

Charm City: A Walk through Baltimore by Madison Smartt Bell
Light Box by K.J. Orr
Cain by Luke Kennard
The Beautiful Struggle by Ta Nehisi Coates
Everfair by Nisi Shawl
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum
The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone
Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair
The Barn at the End of the World by Mary Rose O'Reilly
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
One Child: the Story of China's Most Radical Experiment by Mei Fong
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
The Nix by Nathan Hill

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
Judas by Amos Oz
Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
Midwinter by Fiona Melrose

I'm going on my first silent retreat in April, so I wanted to read the Howd and O'Reilly in preparation. I'm headed to Baltimore soon and snagged the Bell and Coates for that purpose, but it turns out that the Chabon is also set there. I read the Orr for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, checked out the Kennard and Sinclair for the Dylan Thomas Prize list, the Barnhill and Shawl for the Nebula, the Chabon & Palmer & Hill for the Tournament of Books, the Melrose for the Baileys, and the Oz for the Man Booker International Prize.

The Fong is the April book for my in-person book club; the rest were just books I was interested in.

I review every book I read on Goodreads, and a hefty chunk of these are already done!

These piles are an eternal tribute to the library where I work, because all but one book comes from their collection or through the statewide consortium, or infrequently, an interlibrary loan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reading Envy 082: Reading Envy Envy

Scott and Jenny go back and read books mentioned by other people in previous episodes of Reading Envy, because of course we get reading envy too! This is not a repeat episode, but a new look at books that may have only been mentioned in passing on previous episodes. Jenny will link to the original episode mentions in case you want to hear another perspective after hearing this episode.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 082: Reading Envy Envy.

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

Books discussed:

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (originally mentioned episode 075)
The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone (originally mentioned episode 049)
Tenth of December by George Saunders (originally mentioned episode 026)
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith (originally mentioned episode 070)
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (originally mentioned episode 004)
Plainsong by Kent Haruf (originally mentioned episode 075 and 078)

Other mentions:

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? by Brother Guy Consolmagno
The Star by Arthur C. Clarke
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Gilead  and Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Podcast with George Saunders
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Killing Rage by bell hooks
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Song by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Eventide by Kent Haruf
Benediction by Kent Haruf
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

Related Episodes:
Episode 014 - Flannery O'Connor with Zombies with Jason and Scott
Episode 052 - The Man with the Eyebrows with Philip and Scott
Episode 058 - Wishing for a Sequel with Scott
Episode 071 - Bad Priest, Good Priest, No Priest with Scott
Stalk us online:
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Scott on Twitter
Scott on his blog

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Reading Envy 081: Readalong Announcement

Jenny sits down alone by the fire at the Reading Envy Pub to bend your ear about our first ever readalong, and the birth of a new online community. This is a quick episode, and you still have time to get a copy of this book to participate in the readalong. I hope to see you there.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 081: Readalong Announcement.

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

If you are interested in appearing on the podcast: FAQ

Book featured:


East of Eden by John Steinbeck (of course)

Other mentions:

The brand new Reading Envy Readers Goodreads Group

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Related episodes:

Episode 074 - The Books We Didn't Love in High School with Blaine DeSantis
Episode 077 - No One Messes With a Wolf with Shawn Mooney

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy   

Sunday, March 5, 2017

New books in, February 2017

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
Sula by Toni Morrison
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
Follow Me Into the Dark by Felicia C. Sullivan
No Knives in the Kitchens of This City by Khaled Khalifa
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
Island Home by Tim Winton
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Not pictured:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere #2) by Meg Elison
Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

I feel like my book acquisition is changing! Most of these are either review copies or subscription services, all except two.

The Adichie, Morrison, and Bennett came in a review copy of the fiction box, which I'll review as a set soon (I've read 2/3 of the books.) I was happy to end up with a copy of the Bennett due to its position on the Tournament of Books shortlist, and I had not selected it when it was a Book of the Month option.

The Sullivan and Winton came directly from the publishers, which was great (and Sullivan herself contacted me when she saw I was reading another book from Feminist Press, Black Wave. The Saunders, Elison, and Carosella are all audio review books from their respective publishers.

Sheffield was a gift from my Litsy postal book swap for Valentines Day and I'm looking forward to reading it! It's been on my TBR list forever. The Khalifa is a book I wanted to buy in January for my borders reading project, but it was out of stock on Amazon for at least a month. It is set in Aleppo and I don't expect it to be exactly a light read.

The Kimani was the February selection for the Malaprops subscription, and the Wilson and Lee were selections through Book of the Month. I had a few bonus credits so I picked two this month. Have I read them yet? Nope. Ha.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Books 31-56 of 2017 (February)

Books pictured are this month's 5-star reads

Total Books Read: 25

Titles from Tournament of Books: 1
Titles for Book Clubs: 4

Audiobook: 2
eBook: 9
Print: 14

Graphic novel: 1
Memoir: 3
Non-fiction/essays (not including memoir): 9
Short stories: 1

Male: 9
Female: 12
Multi/other: 5

PoC: 9

31. Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move by Reece Jones (personal ecopy; my review)****
32. Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis (interlibrary loan; my review)****
33. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by 166 voices (review audiobook; my review)*****
34. Binti: Home (Binti #2) by Nnedi Okorafor (eARC from NetGalley; my review)****
35. Black Wave by Michelle Tea (interlibrary loan; my review)*****
36. Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard (interlibrary loan; my review)*****
37. The Verso Book of Dissent: A Global Guide to Rebellion and Revolution, from Spartacus to Black Lives Matter edited by Andrew Hsiao (personal ecopy; my review)****
38. A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton (personal copy; my review)****
39. The End of Average: How to Succeed in a World that Values Sameness by Todd Ross (institutional copy; my review)***
40. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)****
41. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (library book; my review)***
42. We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer (library book; my review)****
43. Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writings by Lauren Beukes (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)***
44. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (book swap; my review)***
45. The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson (library eBook; my review)****
46. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (personal audiobook copy; my review)****
47. The Mindfulness Diaries: How I Survived My First Nine-Day Silent Meditation Retreat by Jennifer Howd (library book; my review)****
48. Havana: A Subtropical Delirium by Mark Kurlansky (eARC from NetGalley; my review)****
49. Lace Bone Beast: Poems & Other Fairy Tales for Wicked Girls by N.L. Shompole (eARC from publisher; my review)****
50. Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire (library book; my review)***
51. Plainsong (Plainsong #1) by Kent Haruf (personal copy; my review)*****
52. Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (personal copy; my review)****
53. The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone (library book; my review)****
54. Love is Love: a comic book anthology to benefit the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting edied by Marc Andreyko (Hoopla; my review)****
55. The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most by Peter Felten (library book; my review)****
56. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)****

Reading Envy 080: The Wild Things Helped with Jason Roland

Jenny is joined by Jason, and there are no floods, hurricanes, or ice storms that we are aware of. Knock on wood! Stay tuned for an announcement next week about the Reading Envy Readalong.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 080: The Wild Things Helped.

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

If you are interested in appearing on the podcast: FAQ

Books featured:

A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
Young God by Katherine Faw Morris
Black Wave by Michelle Tea
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Ema the Captive by Cesar Aira

Other mentions:
African Kiwano Jelly Melon Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber
HBO Special with Maya Angelou and Dave Chappelle
What the World Will Look Like Us When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg
The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg
The North Water by Ian McGuire
The Nix by Nathan Hill
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Related podcast episodes:

Episode 014: Flannery O'Connor with Zombies
Episode 025: Mule and Plow
Episode 042 - It Begins with Rain
Episode 054 - Retired Pirates 
Episode 073 - Buried Under the Beets with Jason Roland

Stalk us online:
Jason on Twitter
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Recommended Reads in Biography and Memoir, Part 1: Childhood and Coming of Age

I sent my youngest sister a long list of recommended memoirs and biographies because they are her jam. I thought since I had done the work to make the list, I could share it with you too, updated since the list I sent her in December. Since it is so long I will post a chunk of it every now and then. Tell me what you think about this kind of post!

For books to end up on this list,
  1. I read them already
  2. I rated them 4 or 5 stars (out of 5)
  3. I still remembered them
The descriptions are for my sister, who I'm assuming has not heard of these before. Your mileage may vary! And do tell, what have I missed?

Everything by David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs
(This is a bit of a cop out but these were the first memoirs I remember reading ever, so it's been over ten years.)

The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson
This is an actor from The Office (USA) and I listened to the audio. It was fascinating because he grew up in small town Washington, but as a Ba’hai. I had never heard of anyone with that background. Also he’s a huge geek, lots of fun.

The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
Growing up in an east Texan town with troubled parents. Mary is one of the best memoirists out there.
Cherry by Mary Karr
This is kind of the second but also simultaneous half to The Liar’s Club, kind of about when she leaves home as a teen but also rehashing some of TLC. I’d just read TLC.

An alternative to all the missionary accounts in Zimbabwe, this one is a girl who grew up there without her parents being missionaries. When [White] Rhodesia experiences a revolt, her family has to figure out what to do.

Dream More by Dolly Parton
I liked this way more than I expected. She is encouraging and like positive action on a stick, but her story really is inspiring.

Fun Home by Allison Bechdel
A graphic novel about growing up with a father who is a funeral director (aka fun. Home, get it?) This book has generated lots of controversy and probably wouldn’t be a good one to read until you had your own place, but it deals with lgbt stuff and parent-child stuff. Bechdel wore outfits and took polaroids of herself, then drew them to create all the art. She’s amazing. See also Are You My Mother? which is a followup about her relationship with her mother and also about analysis (therapy) – this one is more brainy and I didn’t care as much.

Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith
One man's experience of growing up Black in America.

I actually read this during my trip home in 2014 because my friend somehow knew I would need lighter reads than what I had packed, and mailed it to our parents' house. It’s light and funny, like candy. Mindy is the person behind The Mindy Project and was also on The Office.

Individual stories about getting through the worst of it.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
I remember being freaked out by this book, and started wondering if maybe we were actually Mennonites. I mean, her mom sang the same songs in the car as our mom.

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming, the actor, discovered some things about his childhood and parentage that led him to write about all of it. This is great in audio, his amazing Scottish accent. And there is an episode online from the “Who Do You Think You Are” show that tells more or less the same story.

Pigs Can't Swim by Helen Peppe
The youngest child writes about her childhood growing up very poor in rural Maine.

Swallow the Ocean by Laura M. Flynn
I read this in the Creative Non Fiction class I took, a memoir about growing up with a mother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Phew.

To the Is-Land by Janet Frame (these days only available in complete autobiography, An Angel at my Table)
A childhood in New Zealand, which would later lead to incredible mental illness which isn’t so present in this book. I read this as part of New Zealand November last year and wouldn’t have probably known about it otherwise, but Janet is a well-known poet in that country.

Full disclosure, Jeanette is one of my favorite novelists of all time. Top 3. She talks about her childhood and coming to terms with her identity despite her parents and the pressure they tried to impose to fake it.

A geeky memoir from the star of a web series called “The Guild.” Might be too geeky for you but I liked it.